Johannesburg - South Africa's Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane on Thursday said that women's participation in the Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector was woefully low, more especially in the countries of the South.
"It is important to encourage young women to consider careers in areas as such science and ICT sectors. Studies show that women still have limited access to education and therefore fewer women are able to enter the ICT sector,” said Kubayi-Ngubane in a speech prepared for delivery at the Regional Gender Sensitisation Workshop hosted by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa Region in partnership with the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature.
The theme for the workshop was “Mechanism to Strengthen Gender Equality” and it was in line with Goal 3 of the Millennium Development Goals which seeks to “Promote Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women”.
Emphasising the importance of ICT in accelerating women empowerment, Kubayi-Ngubane said the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) called for speedy transformation in the ICT sector.
“The convergence of information or software systems and ICT created digital platforms for accessing and analysing information. Hence the advent of data economy which is at the centre of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We need to ensure that women are given all necessary tools to adventure this new economy,” she said.
“With the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, women empowerment is no longer an option. We need to enact policies that will ensure that there is an increased and affordable access to the internet connectivity. The Fourth Industrial Revolution can provide women with broader access to online services such as health care and education. It can eliminate gender digital divide which remains most severe in poorer countries. Lack of awareness about the ICT benefits for women is a huge barrier to entry for women empowerment."
Chairperson of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association,Lindiwe Maseko, who was one of the speakers said public policy was another mechanism for change and gender equality.
She said that parliamentarians should heed a call to ensure that the legislative process was open and transparent for women to participate.
The Gender Sensitisation Workshop also addressed the issue of women representation in decision making bodies of the society.
The workshop was attended by members of the Common Wealth Parliamentary Association Africa Region with representatives from countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Mauritius and Uganda.
African News Agency/ANA